Excerpt taken from Michel Nischan’s cookbook, Taste Pure and Simple.
“If you ever had an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or neighbor who grew his or her own “home-grown” tomatoes and you recall them as the best you ever tasted, you have probably tasted an heirloom tomato. These often irregularly shaped, colorful tomatoes are grown from seeds that have been passed down through generations of small farmers and backyard gardeners. If you’ve never tasted them, they are worth seeking out at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or from a neighbor’s backyard. Use any combination that you can find if you can’t find the ones listed below. If you grow tomatoes, get hold of some heirloom seeds and harvest your own. Of course, if you can’t find them, use the best local farm tomatoes you can buy — but make sure they are perfectly ripe and fragrant.
Nothing is more humbling than a good tomato. It needs no more embellishment than salt and pepper, so when you add extra ingredients, they should be of the highest quality. This salad relies on the gentle use of excellent oil and vinegar and super-fresh herbs.”
Cut the tomatoes into different shapes, but of a similar thickness: Slice, quarter, or cube them.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, shredded basil, chives, vinegar, and oil. Toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. Serve right away, garnished with basil sprigs.